MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - Since the early 1990s radical Islam was one of Russia’s most serious security threats, spreading across its regions and attracting more and more Jihadi followers.
According to political scientist Igor Dobaev, the Islamic radicalization process is an ongoing one; it is expanding its influence to new regions and has led to a growing number of radical groups. While the North Caucasus remains a hotbed for Jihadi activity, Islamic extremism has also strengthened its positions in the Volga region and in larger cities of central Russia.
The Volga region, especially the Republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan experienced an Islamic revival in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. The growth of Islam has inspired a rise in extremism. A considerable number of Muslims had an opportunity to study Islam abroad, where they were radicalized and became advocates of Jihad, or holy warfare. After returning home, they attempted to proselytize the Islamist religious trend and attract new followers. The situation was also “heated up” by the Caucasian jihadists, who launched information campaigns, appealing for armed resistance. With more than 12 million Muslims living within these republics and in their neighboring areas, radical Islam had every opportunity to spread quickly throughout the population.
As CSIS informs, the first terrorist attacks on Islamic religious leaders from the Republic of Tatarstan took place in July 2012. Three months later, Russian security forces prevented an extensive act of terrorism in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan.
What is troubling is that the radical ideology is becoming more attractive to ethnic Russians who live in central regions. The media often uses the term “Russian Wahhabism” to refer to former Orthodox Christians who have adopted radical Islam and participate in terrorist activities. The phenomenon of “Russian Wahhabism” represents a new challenge for Russia’s security forces, since it makes the prevention of terrorism acts and the detection of potential criminals more and more complicated.